Community Trust and Equity Initiative

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Taking Action to Make Change and Increase Equity in Orlando

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and the City of Orlando remain committed to listening to our community and responding to make change and investments to ensure that all residents are treated with dignity and respect. 
 
Critical to that effort is ensuring that the actions of our police officers reflect our community’s standards and include ongoing review of our police department policy, enhanced officer training and a continued commitment to transparency to further build and maintain trust with our residents.  
 
Additionally, we must continue to take action and make investments that help end systemic racism and create an Orlando where every resident is equally valued, equally protected and has equitable access to opportunities. 

Background

Following the horrific death of George Floyd in May 2020, we heard from many residents who asked for a review of our use of force policies with a goal of potentially saving lives, and also encouraged the City of Orlando to further address racial inequity through its investments, increase police transparency and law enforcement accountability. 

In early July 2020, we took action and made several significant changes to OPD policies to ban all choke holds, ban no-knock warrants and updated our Response to Resistance policy. 

Through our budgeting process, we increased our families parks and recreation budget by 16%, invested $22 million in funding for short and long term housing, and allocated $4 million for job training and economic development initiatives for minority and women-owned businesses. We also refocused $4.5 million in funding to strengthen community policing efforts, enhance review and training for use of force and fund mental health assistance for officers. 

These were the first of many steps we, as a city, are committed to continue taking to review and update our police policies and practices and the many initiatives we can and should consider in order to address the gaps in racial disparity in our community and nation. 

In September 2020, we are furthering this process and taking more action to identify additional reforms and programs we can implement to ensure that our police policy and training translate into our officers working better, together with our community. 

Next Steps

This next phase of strengthening community policing efforts is a multi-pronged approach that will involve: 

  • An independent, third-party analysis and recommended reforms of Orlando Police Department policies, training, operational practices, accountability systems and technology.   

  • A partnership with Bethune-Cookman University Center for Law and Social Justice to launch a unique community engagement program in the Parramore and Washington Shores areas that will utilize interactive and scenario based training for law enforcement officers together with local residents, youth, neighborhood and faith-based leaders. 

  • A survey for members of the public to fill out related to their unique experience during interactions with Orlando police officers to provide data-driven results to further implement changes where necessary. 

Next steps also include the hiring of an Equity Official and expanding youth opportunities through our Parramore Kidz Zone and My Brothers Keeper programs. 

Community Engagement Opportunities

As we remain committed to continue to build on these actions and engage the community, this page will reflect those updates. Additionally, beginning in November 2020, we will email updates to those interested, as well as hold community meetings and public forums, which will also be posted on this page.  

Sign up for email updates

As part of its independent review of the Orlando Police Department, the Bowman Group is inviting community members to participate in virtual meetings to share their thoughts on OPD and police-community interactions. During the meetings, community members will have the opportunity to share their experiences, perceptions and ideas on a number of topics involving the way that the department engages with the community. To help community members speak freely, OPD personnel is not participating in the meetings. 

For more information on previous actions and investments the City of Orlando has made to date to make change and increase equity in Orlando, please see below. 

Action Taken

We continue to renew and expand our efforts to make change and further create racial equity through investments in our community.  The significant investments we make in economic development, jobs, housing and education are more important than ever as we strive to make Orlando a more equitable city.  

To further this effort, the City of Orlando has: 

  • Dedicated funding in the 2020/2021 budget to create Orlando’s first-ever Equity Official, a position dedicated to make change and further racial equity in everything our city government does. 

Increasing Families, Parks and Recreation to bring more programs to children and residents in the neighborhoods where they live -  

  • Approved funding  to expand the Parramore Kidz Zone program to three additional neighborhoods -  Holden Heights, Mercy Drive and Engelwood neighborhoods - to reach more at risk youth and connect them with opportunity. 

  • Approved an additional $1 million dedicated in the 2020/2021 budget, to expand the My Brother’s Keeper program into four new neighborhoods to connect more of Orlando’s boys and young men of color with mentoring, support networks and skills to help them improve academic performance, increase employment opportunities and reduce incarceration.  

Making Housing Accessible for Everyone -  

  • In the FY 20-21 budget we’ve made $22 million available towards short and long-term affordable housing. 

  • Additionally, the City and CRA are providing residents up to $100,000 in down payment assistance to make the homes even more affordable through city and CRA down payment assistance programs.  

  • In the last five years, the city has invested or committed more than $40 million to create or preserve housing options, a majority of the investment in West Orlando neighborhoods. This includes the construction or rehabilitation of more than 1,600 multifamily units and the construction of more than 150 new residences (single-family residences and duplexes) that provide opportunities for residents interested in pursuing the American dream of homeownership.    

Job Training and Support for Minority Owned Businesses –  

  • Connecting residents to careers in some of Orlando’s fastest growing industries including construction, distribution, advanced manufacturing, healthcare and transportation and logistics, through the city’s BluePrint 2.0 program

  • Residents who are enrolled in one of more than 100 job and vocational training opportunities are eligible for a subsidy in the amount of $125 per week to cover the costs of housing, food and other needs. 

  • Investing a total of $300,000 in annual funding to the Black Business Investment Fund (BBIF) and Prospera to provide technical assistance to small minority-owned businesses. 

We remain committed to continuing to hold our officers to the highest standard and further transparency with our community. 

To further this effort, the City of Orlando has: 

  • Through our 2020/2021 budget, dedicated funding to enhance our Response to Resistance investigations by creating a new dedicated team to provide additional oversight and transparency. 

  • As of July 2020, changed our Response to Resistance policy in a manner that will ensure our procedures are in line with the expectations we are hearing from members of our community, including adding a de-escalation technique review in response to resistance investigations as a requirement of the policy.   

  • We’ve also updated our policy to require another level of review that specifically looks at de-escalation technique utilization. 

 

Through police policy reform, our emphasis continues to focus on changing the culture of how our officers work with our community.  

To further this effort, the City of Orlando has: 

  • As of July 2020,  revised our response to resistance policy to ban all choke holds and ban no-knock warrants. 

  • Through our 2020/2021 budget, approved funding for a pilot to utilize alternative responder models that engage mental health and social service professionals on calls involving individuals experiencing homelessness or a mental crisis. This model aims to provide a more compressive response with trained professionals in these areas to help provide additional support services. 

  • Partnered with Aspire Health Partners to launch an Alternative Mental Health Response Pilot Program. During the one-year pilot, trained mental health professionals will be on duty during the most frequent times that OPD receives 911 calls about residents experiencing a mental health crisis. The teams will respond to non-violent suicide attempts or other mentally-ill non-violent calls, focused on de-escalating and connecting those in need to treatment and support services. Data will be collected during the year-long pilot and analyzed to provide insight on the effectiveness of the program, needed modifications and recommendations for future services.

We are committed to enhancing  police training to further ensure   the actions of our officers reflect  our community’s standards. 

To further this effort, the City of Orlando has: 

  •  As of July 2020, Mayor Dyer directed the Police Chief Orlando Rolón to immediately begin working on enhancing training to emphasize and ensure that all measures to de-escalate a situation are taken during citizen interactions. 

  • Through the 2020/2021 budget, funded the development of a pilot program to provide alternative dispatch models for those in need of mental health assistance. 

  • Through the 2020/2021, added funding to support the engagement of an educational institution to provide officers with Intercultural Competence Assessment evaluations to strengthen their cultural competence and ensure positive police-community interactions. 

We remain committed to  building relationships between our officers and the residents they serve through outreach, dialogue and community service.  

To further this effort, the City of Orlando has:  

  • through our FY 2020/2021 budget, approved funding that will create a dedicated Community Oriented Policing Team, comprised of 10 new officers who will focus on working collaboratively with residents to address community concerns and cultivate positive relationships.